The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) presented awards for excellence in public affairs and industry relations at its Midwinter Executive Conference in Orlando on Jan. 31.
Art Potash, CEO of Potash Markets, received FMI’s Glen P. Woodard Jr. Award for his outstanding contributions on behalf of the food industry in government and public affairs.
Potash is the second generation in his family to run a small grocery chain in downtown Chicago, continuing a 60-plus-year family legacy of excellence in customer service. In addition to serving consumers, Potash plays a strong role in representing independent operators on Capitol Hill in efforts such as the Durbin amendment, which was the catalyst for merchants’ and consumers’ effort to bring fairness and transparency to swipe fees, a provision under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. During the initial process of the swipe fee legislation in 2010, Potash and Potash Markets answered the call to action against big banks in support of Main Street businesses, hosting two press conferences on the subject in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
On the floor of the U.S. Senate in October 2011, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) remarked, “Art Potash has become a buddy of mine, second or third generation owning this supermarket near North Chicago. He is not as big as the big boys, Dominick’s, Jewel [Osco] and the others, but, boy, what a nice store he has.”
After his first visit to D.C. to fight swipe fees, Potash continues his valued contributions in government affairs by serving as vice chair of FMI’s Public Affairs Committee. His bipartisan spirit is evident in his service on several retail committees and his dedication to battling Wall Street on behalf of the industry.
In addition to his public affairs accomplishments in Washington, Potash still puts his hometown markets first and strives to give each customer a personal experience. Whether he is fighting for savings for retailers and their customers or working back home in Chicago, Potash’s involvement in the industry will leave a lasting impact.
“Art is a natural diplomat with a real gift of bringing to light the local impact of national issues in an accessible manner,” Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and CEO said. “He embodies advocacy in action, and as such expresses the ideas undergirding the Woodard Award.”
Douglas R. Conant
Douglas R. Conant, former president and CEO of Campbell Soup Co., received the William H. Albers Industry Relations Award for his excellence in trading partner relations in the food retail supplier community.
As Campbell’s 11th leader, Conant faced the challenges of reversing a declining market value, and arguably taking the company through its single most comprehensive transformation in 132 years. He attributes his ability to make strategic investments in team leadership, marketing and products to Campbell Soup’s success.
Conant told his staff at a leadership forum when he was CEO, “I know that growth requires well directed and orchestrated action. And I do know that if there’s one thing you should expect from your leadership team while I’m here: You should expect action.”
Conant was instrumental in working with retailers to augment store experiences and trading partner relations. Under Conant’s leadership, the company developed innovative, in-store iQ Maximizer racks aimed at improving shopper experiences by organizing soups into “Shoppable Chunks.” This customer improvement translated to improvements in retail operations, as supermarkets witnessed a decrease in both labor needed for restocking shelves and loss from expired foods.
Sarasin complimented Conant’s legacy and merchandising strategies, saying, “Conant bridged his commitment to his employees to that of the marketplace. Throughout his tenure, I knew Conant as an agile leader and an innovative trading partner at retail.”
Conant remains active on several committees in order to strengthen the supplier bond. His accomplishments include the support of FMI’s board meetings and the Passion for Food program, which invites key retail leaders to share ideas and showcase the Campbell’s culinary experience.
Conant is now the best-selling author of “TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments,” which enforces the importance of seizing learning opportunities during daily challenges to become a better leader, and draws upon his speaking circuit engagements. When he’s not presenting thought leadership throughout the country, he’s lending his time as chairman of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), as a member of the Board of the National Organization on Disabilities (NOD) and as a member of the Board of the Families and Work Institute.